Preliminary Study of a Solar Trough/Tower Power Plant

The possibility of combining both the advantages of a solar tower thermal power plant and of a solar parabolic trough power plant could be interesting from an energetic point of view as well from an economic point of view. The preliminary study of this combination feasibility is the goal of this project. The study of the project viability consist first of all on the modeling of the trough system, the energy balance of the parabolic troughs will be established at first. Secondly, and choosing a perfect solar day simulating a day when the solar radiation is rather stable, with no cloudy periods along the day, the power available from the trough plant can be calculated. Once we have estimated the power that we can introduce into the cycle of the tower plant, the main issue consists on how and where it is better to use this energy in the cycle. Several possibilities seem to be interesting a priori, however a more detailed study of each one is to be done in order to get to the most economic and efficient layout. The work related to the tower thermal power plant will be done taking as starting point the master thesis of James Spelling, who did an incredible work in this field and whose work will be a valuable help to continue the research on the proposed concept in this project of combining two plants, tower and trough. The main advantage of the tower design compared to the parabolic trough design is the higher temperature. As it will be explained further, thermal energy at higher temperature can be converted more efficiently, the exergy efficiency is better. In terms of storage, the high temperature results in a cheaper and a more efficient storage system. Nevertheless, the set up of the field of heliostats is more complex than the set up of the parabolic trough lines even though the area for a trough plant must be previously flattened. The lower temperature level that entails an inconvenient itself for a parabolic trough power plant may become an advantage when combining both types of concentrating solar power plants. If the results are positive enough that it seems interesting to combine both types of power plants, another step forward will be done towards the use of the sun energy as a renewable source thus making it a more interesting choice for power generation. Sun potential has already shown as an important technology not only at the present time but also in the future. Commercial solar plants have already achieved levelized energy costs around 12-15 UScts/kWh, and the potential for cost reduction is expected to follow this trend even further, to costs as low as 5 UScts/kWh. In addition the taxes imposed for the non-green power should make even more interesting the use of concentrating solar power plants. The requirements of high beam normal radiation lead to a limited amount of suitable places where the implantation of this technology is possible. However many places exist on Earth where the conditions are perfectly adapted, we talk about regions such as United States (the country with more carbon dioxide emissions in the world), some regions in Mexico, North Africa, India, Australia, northeastern Brazil and some locations around the Mediterranean, especially in the south of Spain. The challenge is therefore set for a change in our energy production scheme.

Favrat, Daniel
Augsburger, Germain

Note: The status of this file is: EPFL only

 Record created 2011-03-01, last modified 2018-03-17

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